How will your life end?

Today I write from a personal tragedy happening in my life right now. As some of you may know, my father in law is currently in intensive care at a local hospital fighting for his life.

His hospital admission came suddenly. On Christmas Day, he seemed to be sick. He celebrated the day with us but by the end of the evening he was coughing pretty badly and really tired.

Over the course of the next several days, he ran a fever, began to sleep more and stopped eating. His cough was terrible and his breathing was difficult. He wasn’t really working, even though he tried. He was sick but still felt like he could beat this thing on his own.

On New Year’s Eve, after a week of being sick, he went to the doctors. His vital signs were alarming to say the least. He was rushed to the hospital for emergency care after being diagnosed with pneumonia.

His hospital condition has continued to worsen. He is now on a ventilator. He is receiving dialysis because his kidneys don’t work. He has a PICC line because he cant eat on his own and he is unconscious.

Last night, I had a discussion with the doctors about end of life measures. Frankly, I didn’t know what to say. I have no idea whether my father in law would want to be kept alive by machines if his condition continues to worsen. I have no idea if he would want to be resuscitated if his vitals crash. I have no idea what his burial intentions are and I have no idea if he has a will.

These are hard conversations to have. It is hard to think about dying and how you will die. However, these discussions are necessary. I see the strain my mother in law is facing in making these decisions. She is questioning whether she is doing the right thing for him and whether he would want these measures taken. An end of life plan could alleviate her of these worries because she would know she was carrying out his wishes.

We all remain hopeful that we will see a miracle. We remain hopeful that he will turn a corner and his kidneys will start to work, his temperature will come down and his lungs will be clear of infection. We remain hopeful but we are without a plan.